Maybe some shortlines and industrial railroads have used Roundup, but the big carriers use something shorter acting.  Until around 1990, some railroads had their own spray contraptions while others used contractors such as Nalco.  The railroad's weed spray is not as aggressive as Roundup, and pre-emergent sprays are preferred to direct-kill sprays.  Mowing is the contemporary solution for tall right of way weeds.  When I was at Sweetwater, we had a contract mower on a tractor from April through October.  He disturbed lots of rattlesnakes, and was swarmed by ground-dwelling bumblebees and wasps on several occasions.  That was one tough old man.  We also had a contractor who used a special tractor equipped with an evil-looking tree saw that looked like a helicopter rotor.  He cut mesquite that was growing out of the ground outside the right of way, but encroaching over onto our side of the fence and fouling our pole line.

Today, weed spraying is all outsourced, because of the liability to adjacent landowners and the spray employees.  Runoff is a big consideration, and there are food crops growing right up to the right of way boundary in places.  I remember when we accidentally killed acres of cotton, soybeans, and milo, once due to the Santa Fe weed spray crew accidentally mixing up a batch of spray that was too concentrated, and another time due to the Santa Fe crew trying to get finished ahead of the forecasted late afternoon wind, and not quitting when the wind began to increase earlier than predicted.

Steve Patterson, who has put a number of his fine photos on RailPictures.net was employed in the early 1960's by Nalco as supervisor on a weed spray train that sprayed a lot of Southern Pacific and Missouri Pacific weeds.  Many of his photos were taken where the spray train took siding to be met or passed, or where it tied up for the weekend.

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

I can't speak for all lines, but from the announcement I have to make every year around here:

"THE APPLICATOR WILL BE USING A MIX OF AQUANEAT, ESPLANADE 200 SC, MILESTONE, AND SPYDER OR OUST XP WITH AN ANTI- DRIFT ADDITIVE IN WATER FOR THE CONTROL OF WEEDS AND GRASS. BEGINNING ON OR ABOUT JULY 1ST, AREAS CLOSE TO STREAMS AND STANDING WATER WHICH WERE NOT SPRAYED ON THE FIRST APPLICATION, WILL BE SPOT TREATED WITH AQUANEAT WITH AN ANTI-DRIFT ADDITIVE IN WATER."

Jon

Number 90 posted:

We also had a contractor who used a special tractor equipped with an evil-looking tree saw that looked like a helicopter rotor.  He cut mesquite that was growing out of the ground outside the right of way, but encroaching over onto our side of the fence and fouling our pole line.

 

We had some of those too. They were on booms and could get way up into the trees. It actually butchered the trees more than cutting them. Made one heck of a mess too.

KOOLjock1 posted:

I can't speak for all lines, but from the announcement I have to make every year around here:

"THE APPLICATOR WILL BE USING A MIX OF AQUANEAT, ESPLANADE 200 SC, MILESTONE, AND SPYDER OR OUST XP WITH AN ANTI- DRIFT ADDITIVE IN WATER FOR THE CONTROL OF WEEDS AND GRASS. BEGINNING ON OR ABOUT JULY 1ST, AREAS CLOSE TO STREAMS AND STANDING WATER WHICH WERE NOT SPRAYED ON THE FIRST APPLICATION, WILL BE SPOT TREATED WITH AQUANEAT WITH AN ANTI-DRIFT ADDITIVE IN WATER."

Jon

Aquaneat's prime ingredient is glysophate, which is the same ingredient Roundup uses, and  I suspect the railroads use spray with Glysophate in it. The other ones mentioned here are pre emergent types.

 

As far as runoff on crops, these days many crops like soybeans and the like are GMO, and they are made to be immune to glysophate, farmers then can use glysophate to control weeds while not harming their crops (whether that is safe is another story, not relevant here). 

 

 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

Bill N posted:

I've seen a picture of a crew using steam from the loco boiler to kill vegetation on the ROW.  I don't suppose plants would like getting blasted with 200 degree plus water at 200 psi.

Sure you're not referring to a blowdown?

Water/steam at 200 psi is closer to about 400 degrees F.

Steve

 

Back in the BAD old days, the LIRR actually sprayed oil on their right of way by means of the "oil train"! This is actually documented in Steel Rails to the Sunrise by Ron Ziel. NOT very hospitable to the environment, to say the least. BTW, Monsanto recently had to pay out a HUGE court settlement for the alleged cancer causing ingredient in Roundup! The LIRR also got in trouble in 1976 with their use of a defolient chemical once used in Vietnam, and which apparently caused birth defects there.

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

Tinplate Art posted:

Back in the BAD old days, the LIRR actually sprayed oil on their right of way by means of the "oil train"! This is actually documented in Steel Rails to the Sunrise by Ron Ziel. NOT very hospitable to the environment, to say the least. BTW, Monsanto recently had to pay out a HUGE court settlement for the alleged cancer causing ingredient in Roundup! The LIRR also got in trouble in 1976 with their use of a defolient chemical once used in Vietnam, and which apparently caused birth defects there.

Agent Orange?

The TEXAS SPECIAL:  The REAL RED streak of the golden prairies!

CSX FAN posted:

Fairmont actually made a flame machine that burned all the brush. Ran on Gasoline, back when gas was 35 cents a gallon. 

Weed burners like that were commonly used, until the 1960's.  The weed burner was labor-intensive, requiring two groups of men -- one on the track car and trailers with the weed burner, and another on a following track car pulling trailers with fire control spratyequipment and shovels.  Thus, the switch to chemical weed control was a business decision.

A santa Fe passenger train hit a weed burner at high speed, in western Kansas, around 1953.  In those days, positive protection was not required for track maintenance equipment.  The weed burner crew was aware of the passenger train's timetable schedule, waited until the last minute to head for a siding, and didn't make it.  The train suffered little damage and did not derail.  Men riding on the maintenance equipment were killed.

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

DOMINIC: "blood as its ink" - REALLY? It is IGNORANCE of, or FAILURE to obey the rules, that often results in tragedy, and NOT the rules themselves! I take it you have never personally operated an actual train or even had to pass a written rules exam, as many of us here have done. That maintenance crew KNEW the schedule of that passenger train, yet FAILED to clear the right of way as specified in the train orders, and the RULES governing them!

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

Tinplate Art posted:

DOMINIC: "blood as its ink" - REALLY? It is IGNORANCE of, or FAILURE to obey the rules, that often results in tragedy, and NOT the rules themselves! I take it you have never personally operated an actual train or even had to pass a written rules exam, as many of us here have done. That maintenance crew KNEW the schedule of that passenger train, yet FAILED to clear the right of way as specified in the train orders, and the RULES governing them!

I took that to mean something different, that rules often get written in response to something happening that the old rules didn't cover right. It isn't so much the fault of the rules, as it is in the reality that when writing rules, it can be hard to conceive of all the possible situations that occur. In the early days of railroading, for example, trains operated strictly via timetable from what I know, and if you were in the siding, and the train you were supposed to be meeting, you were basically stuck there until the other train showed up. From what I remember, even after the invention of the telegraph, the rules were still you wait which caused all kinds of headaches. Eventually someone figured out you could use the telegraph, ask dispatcher if they could proceed, dispatcher checked stations up the line, if they were clear, they would issue orders to the late train to take a siding and give the other train leave to go onto the mainline.  

And tragedy is usually a big spur for rule changes. When cell phones first came out, it took a while before traffic regulations and train regulations caught up to the impact these had, and bans on using them were spurred by the many accidents attributed to cell phone use while driving/operating,some of them quite deadly. 

Probably after this incident, they changed the rules that the MOW equipment had to clear the line at least X minutes before the other train was due to arrive, before the rule likely was "clear the line to allow the scheduled train to pass before proceeding" or some such, assuming the train crew would show good judgement. 

 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

Actually, thinking of weed maintenance, I thought of something interesting, how railroads could operate against themselves.  Before regulations changed, railroads used to discharge the black water out of on board toilets right onto the tracks, which acted as fertilizer to cause weeds and such to grow faster, so on the one hand they were fertilizing the tracks while on the other, trying to eliminate weeds. 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

For the heavy stuff, I've seen a railroads that have used a rapidly rotating steel beam about 4-5 feet long, like a big lawnmower blade but really a club that wacks limbs off trees using blunt force. These may be called flail mowers, I'm not sure. Leaves a mess, though, and the remaining trees are really ugly and rough looking, like a tornado hit the side of them.

I think these forestry mulchers are in wider use now. Pretty neat to watch.

https://youtu.be/LYKg0gbRFns

p51 posted:
Diverging Clear posted:

This is how much of it is done AUSSTEVE.    RustyRWC mainline_4

Now that Roundup and other defoliants are linked to cancer, I wonder how much longer you'll see this kind of thing.

Where can I get a working G scale model of this for my garden railway?

Chris S.

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